As a company operating within the UAE during the holy month of Ramadan, it’s necessary to observe and participate in certain practices of business etiquette.
Not only does this demonstrate respect for the traditions of the country, but it also shows your partners, clients and customers that you are mindful of their customs and culture. If you’re launching your business during this time, it’s equally important that you’re aware of the business environment and can prepare yourself accordingly.
Here are a few key points to consider during the season:
During Ramadan, keep in mind that most of your meeting participants may be fasting and it’s best to steer away from scheduling meetings close to Iftar or prayer times and instead opt for midday business meetings instead. A more suitable alternative is to first determine what timings are feasible for your client and then working around it.
During the Holy Month, most offices (government, free zone or otherwise) operate with shorter working hours. Dependent on the kind of work you may have planned from licencing, visa requirements, ministry approvals and so on, ensure you have provisioned sufficient time and as much as possible, avoid urgent or last-minute requirements.
Changes in the workplace
As a country, the UAE is extremely encouraging when it comes to entrepreneurship and this is especially prevalent in Dubai, not just within the Emirati population but across other nationalities as well. With this in mind, it is important to incorporate the practices of the season into your own business culture. You are likely to have employees fasting during Ramadan, so ensure the necessary changes are made at your workplace. One of the region’s leading publications, The National, shared a few useful Ramadan FAQs that you can read here. While smoking, eating and drinking in public are against the law, it is necessary to create alternate areas for the same with your non-Muslim staff in mind.
During Ramadan, all manner of businesses across the UAE operate on shorter working hours than normal, as advised by the Ministry of Labour. Doing so encourages maximum productivity during midday and also allows for a more convenient fasting experience for Muslim staff and clients.
Extend greetings for season
In the UAE, an important element of business is maintaining strong relationships with employees, partners and clients. Ramadan is an appropriate time to extend personalized greetings for the season whether with handwritten cards, gift baskets or homemade traditional sweets.
It is always in good taste to host Iftar gatherings for clients and employees alike and with Dubai’s many hotels and restaurants offering buffet options across the city, this is an ideal way to celebrate the season. Similarly, if an Iftar invitation is extended to you, it is considered polite and appropriate to accept.
According to a poll called ‘Ramadan in the Middle East’ published by bayt.com 58% of MENA professionals feel important decisions are postponed until after Ramadan. As a business owner, this will leave you with the time and opportunity to focus on corporate and organisational aspects you may not normally have time for, like employee growth plans, research and development, expansion opportunities, brainstorming sessions and so on. Plan ahead and ensure you cover as much as you can, readying yourself for business as usual after Eid.
Those observing Ramadan fast for several hours in a day and this year, Muslims in the region will be fasting for approximately 15 hours a day. It is imperative that you are mindful of this and it reflects in your actions in the workplace. Be patient in the office and it will go a long way to fostering loyalty among your employees.
This article is written by Amanda Perry, Managing Director of Vital Corporate Solutions.